8 Ways to Tell If Your Loved One is Struggling with Addiction

Is someone close to you acting a lot differently lately? Then they may be struggling with addiction.

To date, there are more than 20 million individuals who suffer from drug addiction. People battling substance abuse or alcohol addiction often exhibit changes in their behaviors, their attitudes, and their actions.

But how do you know for sure? This is a question I get asked frequently.

But there are common signs you can look out for that can let you know if your loved one might be struggling with addiction. And it's important for families to know the facts about addiction.

Without further delay, here are 8 warning signs of addiction.

8 Ways to Tell If Someone Close to Your Is Struggling with Addiction

1. Secrecy

If your friend or family member is usually open to communication and starts to become secretive, they might be struggling with addiction.

Some of the ways they may do this is providing vague answers if you ask them general questions. Their body language could change or they walk into another room when they're on the phone.

They might also have a more difficult time looking at you directly I the eyes and give off the impression that they're hiding something.

2. Lying

Have you caught your loved one fibbing? This is one of the first signs along with acting secretively and evading questions.

They often feel lying protects themselves from the threat of being interrogated and won't admit they've been using drugs or alcohol when asked.

3. Mood Changes

Mood fluctuations or mood swings can be the outcome of neurotic and psychiatric effects as a result of substance or alcohol abuse.

Various drugs and alcohol activate emotional responses within the brain. These can be side effects of the substance taken and can cause mood swings in the person taking the substance.

One minute a person's mood can be stable. At another moment they can change.

4. Weight Loss or Weight Gain

Certain drugs and alcohol can influence a person's metabolism. This can bring on severe weight loss or gain. These substances can also increase or decrease appetite.

These can turn into eating disorders at worst which is a psychological disorder is found in many addicts. In addition, people struggling with addiction can have poor diets.

Many people, when addicted, eat more sugar, drink more coffee and smoke more cigarettes.

These types of behaviors can accelerate mood swings, cause anxiety and increase depression as well. That's because they upset the body's natural production of dopamine and serotonin.

5. Changes in Sleep Patterns and Energy Levels

Like mood swings, drug and alcohol can influence one's energy levels. Drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine can intensify energy levels. This, naturally, can make it difficult for the addict to fall and stay asleep.

People who abuse prescription drugs and antidepressants can find it difficult to wake up and feel lethargic and drowsy as a result of the drugs or sedatives.

6. Loss of Interest in Daily Activities

When a person is struggling with addiction, he or she may lose interest in activities that they used to enjoy. If someone close to you loses sudden interest in hobbies that they usually enjoy, it can be the result of addiction.

Is your family member isolating? Do they cancel plans with friends or refuse to participate in family gatherings they used to partake in? This is a sure sign of alcohol and drug addiction.

Do they fail to meet obligations like going to work and completing tasks? If your family member is usually responsible and they begin slipping in their responsibilities, drugs, and alcohol might be the reason.

7. Changes in Attitude and Behavior

When a person is struggling with addiction, they often change the way they treat others. They can suddenly become abrupt and show signs of aggression.

This can be a psychological effect of the illicit drugs or alcohol he is consuming.

These drugs can cause anxiety and disrupt a person's emotional balance and well-being. So if you see sudden behavior changes in attitude, the drugs can be responsible.

Is your loved one changing the people they associate with and discarding their other friends? This can be a sign of drug use.

In these instances, they want to hang out with the friends who accept and approve their drug or alcohol use.

They often want to do drugs with these new friends and will discard their usual friends. They often get into arguments with them and tell them to leave them alone. This is a common behavior among addicts.

Addicts may also dress more risque and become promiscuous. Women might wear clothes that are more revealing, although both of these behaviors aren't the case with all people struggling with addiction.

8. Stealing Money and Valuables

Addicts will do what they must to get their next fix. That often comes at the expense of family members. Do you notice valuable items like jewelry missing?

Does it seem like you misplaced money you put on the counter? Does your wallet have less money in it you remember seeing the last time?

When this happens, your family member may be stealing from you. Many addicts steal from the people they love in order to support their illicit drug and alcohol habit.

If you suspect your money is missing, you might want to confront your family member or friend. But they might not be honest with you and admit they stole from you.

A Final Word on Loved Ones Struggling with Addiction

If your loved one is showing one or more of these warning signs, they might be struggling with addiction. If you're planning an intervention, it's usually better to avoid doing it alone.

A resistant addict might become violent, so it's a good idea to have a conversation with a professional first before confronting your friend or family member.

Our facility provides support, education and detoxification programs to individuals and families suffering from addiction. Visit our website today to get help for yourself or family member and be on your way to recovery.


  1. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/18/us-drug-alcohol-addiction-statistics-treatment-reform
  2. http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on April 4th, 2018.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
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